LIMA — It’s been a long coming.
Fans of the orchestra, Christmas tune lovers and anyone who enjoys seeing kids get up and do the things they love in front of the crowd had plenty to be cheerful about on Sunday. That’s when The Lima Area Youth Orchestra held its Christmas Concert at Lima Senior High School to the sheer delight of a captivated audience.
The popular event that blends band students from schools across the region as well as a handful of home-schooled students was canceled last year due to COVID-19. Co-Director Joseph MacBenn was thrilled to see the group get out in front of a live audience to play for the first time in a while.
“It felt amazing. It’s been a while since this group has had a concert,” MacBenn said. “To be back with live audiences it feels so good to get back into the groove and go wow, there’s people here and they can see it and hear it and appreciate all that goes on. It was really nice to see that.”
This year’s Christmas program was performed by students attending 10 different schools as well as home-schooled students.
The group knocked off the early jitters of playing in front of a full house quickly and sounded as if they had been taking band and orchestra classes in the same district their whole lives.
“Yeah, I think they seemed nervous at first,” MacBenn said. “Who wouldn’t be it was their first time playing together as a group. They overcame those nervous jitters very quickly and performed wonderfully.”
The youth orchestra played for about an hour and covered nine classical Christmas titles, such as Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Sleigh Ride.
Bluffton Freshman Micah Fultz, a percussionist, was just happy for the opportunity to be on stage.
“I liked seeing the faces out in the crowd,” Fultz said. “Especially my mom and dad’s. They have given me a lot of support and I’m glad they came out tonight — they are awesome parents.”
MacBenn says the community support is what makes the group’s programs special and to be able to return in front of them made all the difference in the world to him. He also mentioned his gratitude for the orchestra’s sponsors.
I’m thankful for the parents for all of the families and friends that came here and saw us tonight and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do this,” MacBenn said. Major shout out to the Lima Symphony, to the Noon Optimists and the local chapter of Freemasons for helping us out it’s just outstanding. It’s wonderful.”